<Chapter 9. Anti-Skull – 2>
To cut to the point, the environment they were in wasn’t great for running around and playing hide-and-seek. It was because whenever the King Slime moved, the drain pipes would split, crumble, and spill dirt, causing chaos. The Pauls, who hadn’t yet gotten used to their skeleton bodies, flinched whenever that happened.
“If I can properly see it, then there’s nothing to worry about!”
Lee Shin Woo moved his body, avoiding the King Slime’s charge, and comforted the Pauls. However, the King Slime collided with the sewer drain pipes, causing the whole area to crumble, and by seeing this, the Pauls yelled out.
[If this goes on, the secret facilities will collapse too!]
Certainly, the whole sewer could collapse at this rate. Honestly, it didn’t really matter if a worthless sewer collapsed, but he couldn’t allow all the facilities to collapse before he got a chance to look over the materials.
“I have no choice since it’s come to this.”
Lee Shin Woo stiffly nodded his head and retreated. The Pauls’ attention remained completely fixed on him and followed him.
“I’ll bring more reinforcements, so keep it busy!”
[We can’t. That’s impossible!]
“No, you guys can do it. I’ll make it so you can.”
Pudding had pierced through the sewer pipes, became covered in dirt, and spread poison while in the process. Lee Shin Woo took a short deep breath, and towards the Pauls, who sported expressions akin to young birds gazing at the mother bird (of course, skeletons are expressionless so one wouldn’t be able to tell, but that’s roughly the feeling), as well as Pudding… screamed with all his might.
“I’m really sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry!”
[By using Low Rank Shriek of the Dead, you have caused your enemies to fall into a frenzied and fearful state.]
[You have succeeded in using a skill against an enemy a higher level than you! The Low Rank Shriek of the Dead skill has become Lv2.]
[Kihik…! I-It’s an enemy!]
The four Poison Skeletons, that had for a time regained their reason, had once again completely lost their reasoning due to Lee Shin Woo’s shriek. It was such a heinous act that it wouldn’t be strange if the Devil came and asked if he could take him as his older brother.
Of course, he had expected that it would work on the skeletons, but he hadn’t expected that the skill would work on the level 4 King Slime! It might be because it hadn’t been very long since it had evolved.
“Good. You’re going to die anyway, so if you’re going to die, you might as well shave off some of the slime’s health!”
Lee Shin Woo left a rotten farewell to the Pauls, and rather than say a farewell to the King Slime, which began to struggle in what seemed to be an overlapping frenzied and fearful state, he shot a Fire Bullet at it (catapulting his index finger + Flames of Revenge).
He wanted to see if it would self-destruct like a Great Slime, or if it would have a different response to the fire, but… was it because of the frenzied state? It didn’t show any signs of self-destructing despite the fire spreading. Lee Shin Woo was satisfied by that fact and retreated completely.
[You have run away from the target of your revenge twice. An Avenger can gladly bear the shame of running away twice. When you encounter your enemy again, all stats increase by an additional 15%. However, running away a third time is forbidden.]
‘I ran away from the target of the quest, so it’s natural that I failed the quest, but… I didn’t know the Avenger skill had this kind of option.’
The fact that running away a third time was forbidden meant that he couldn’t just blindly run away from his enemy just because it was scary or else he may be penalized by the skill.
Well, he had thought that the performance of the skill greatly outweighed the risks, but he hadn’t expected this kind of surprise hidden within the skill. He thought that there wouldn’t be a case where he’d run away from the same enemy three times in a row, but there also wasn’t a guarantee that it wouldn’t happen, so it was truly a difficult situation.
‘However, should I just meekly run away now?’
If he fought it right now, he was confident that he could win. However, he really wanted to collect all of the hidden materials in the sewers. Especially because he realized now that his Avenger skill overlapped and would increase his abilities even more, so it wouldn’t be a loss if he just looked at the result.
‘At best, I’m throwing away the navigator I’d gained into the jaws of death, and it’s become a situation where I have to explore the sewers when I don’t know when it’ll collapse…’
However, since he’d gone through the hidden facilities’ pattern twice already, he was just as confident in exploring the sewers. The sole problem right now was that he needed to find the hidden facilities before the sewers completely gave way…
‘It was a good thing I chose to use Shriek of the Dead. It’s become considerably quieter.’
Of course, the duration of his skill wasn’t very long, so it should start going wild again soon, so… it was key that he found the facilities before then.
Lee Shin Woo used his Combat Sprint to its utmost and started to dash. The Great Slime had cleaned the sewers of monsters, so it was completely barren, and if he excluded the dirt that occasionally dropped onto his head, there wasn’t anything that got in his way.
Within only 2 minutes, he found the third hidden facility, and thoughtlessly opened the door. Surprisingly, there were five skeletons waiting with bated breath!
[H-He opened the door.]
[Who are you? Are you a member of the project? No, it doesn’t matter who you are. There’s a fearsome monster roaming around outside!]
This was unexpected. It seems like the catastrophe that befell the sewers after dozens of years of silence, the birth of the Great Slime, had caused them to independently regain their reason.
“So, you’re planning on waiting until it collapses the entire sewer and then dying together? If you plan on burying the efforts of the General who struggled to stop the curse as well, then stay crouched there.”
[Who do you think you are, to speak of the General here!?]
“Does it matter who I am right now?”
He collected all the materials. Lee Shin Woo gazed at them icily (that kind of feeling), and the skeletons glared sharply at him; and he exited the facility, as if there were no value in saying anything more.
“After I collect all the traces of our resistance, I’m going to fight that monster in order to open up our future. You guys can stay here, cuddle with your curse bound bones and disappear.”
[W-Wait a sec.]
One of the skeletons grabbed onto Lee Shin Woo’s arm bone. Lee Shin Woo, who had felt a bit anxious that he hadn’t been harsh enough, secretly felt relieved.
[I-If the facility is going to crumble and everyone’s going to die, then… I’ll fight with you. Damn it, I can’t go to hell without achieving anything.]
[It’s the same for me too. In the end, I may have been too depressed that we hadn’t been able to prevent the curse. If you’re a knight of the Empire, you have to be able to fight your enemy without fear…!]
“…Talk is cheap. Prove it to me with your actions starting now.”
Lee Shin Woo thought it was time to reproach them more… and as soon as he replied frigidly, the skeletons actually seemed to show some pride, and walked ahead of him with heavy footsteps.
He thought when he saw them. ‘Hoo, it may be because skeletons don’t have brains, but I’m telling you, it’s really easy to trick them!’
“We have to check the remaining hidden facilities first and then act. Before that… Do you each remember your names?”
[That’s… I don’t remember anything about myself…]
“Alright then, from this side in order, you’re Paul, Paul 2, Paul 3…”
Lee Shin Woo treated the skeletons that he had left behind to fight the King Slime as already dead, so he forcibly took their names and passed them on!
It was an extremely wicked and careless naming ceremony, but the Pauls didn’t realize it, and were touched as they thought that he ‘accepted them as comrades’. They accepted Lee Shin Woo as their temporary leader, so he didn’t really need to make up an alias!
‘If I came out strong from the start, I could’ve finished it without lying unnecessarily.’
Lee Shin Woo learned a new way to conduct himself based on the situation. If he used the difference of strength between him and his target, and said something suitable, they wouldn’t probe him, and at the same time, he could set up their relationship such that he was superior!
‘…Though even I think it’s really not something a hero should do.’
Around the time that Lee Shin Woo pondered whether he was going in the right direction or not, he finally arrived at the last area. There were seven Poison Skeletons within, and they also obediently joined up with him. With this, he had gathered 12 level 3 Skeletons, excluding himself.
“I’ve collected all of the materials. Now let’s go and take care of the monster!”
As they had increased in numbers, it seemed the skeletons inevitably swelled with confidence. Even though they had regained their reason, they were still fundamentally idiots.
While Lee Shin Woo was encouraging the skeletons and advancing forward, he caught a glimpse of the end of the dungeon. The final secret facility, as well as the adjoining passageway; on the side of the wall, there was a trace that it’d been completely torn out. It looked like that was the boss room… it was obvious, but he didn’t feel anything in there.
‘What happens in this case? Does it recognize killing the King Slime as killing the boss…?’
He had undergone various strange experiences in this dungeon, which was truly odd. The experience he acquired here should be helpful later. He ran while thinking such miscellaneous thoughts, and in no time reached the area where he had first encountered the King Slime.
[You have found the target of your revenge. When you fight it, all abilities increase by 45%. Flames of Revenge receive an additional bonus of 45%. It is your opponent’s last chance, as well as yours.]
The King Slime, which had discovered Lee Shin Woo, howled forcefully. It didn’t have any traces of the Flames of Revenge on its body anymore. He had felt the connection of mana terminate in the middle and had roughly assumed as much.
“You weren’t able to shake it off at the right time, so your body has gotten a lot smaller, huh?”
It acted as though it could understand what Lee Shin Woo was saying and the King Slime’s temper flared, though its body had considerably lessened compared to when he had first saw it. It was to the point that he would believe it if someone said it was a slightly big Great Slime.
However, the smaller it got, the more its strength was concentrated in its body; its strength alone wouldn’t lose out to the Acid Ghoul’s.
[I-I can’t believe it.]
Whereas the 12 Pauls murmured to themselves when they saw the four big and small bones scattered around the battlefield. Of course, the owner of those bones were all dead… No, actually, they were the skeletons of the original Pauls 1 through 4.
They had fought so desperately, so there was no way they’d come out alive from fighting the King Slime.
“Those guys chose to sacrifice themselves in order to keep the results of our tests safe, as well as hide us from the enemy, which allowed me to rescue you guys.”
Lee Shin Woo chattered away so calmly about them, even though they had died so unfairly; if the original Pauls, who had become bones, had heard him, they would’ve returned as evil spirits to haunt him. It would be really fun if they came back as evil spirits.
“You’re not going to let their sacrifice go to waste, are you? For the Empire, and for yourselves… We’re stepping over their corpses!”
[I’ll survive no matter what! Even though I’m a skeleton, there’s hope if I survive!]
[I’ll crush that mushy monster!]
The effect was amazing! The morale of the 12 Pauls soared and they each raised their weapons, and charged at the King Slime! The King Slime seemed to find it laughable and spewed its Acid Poison, though because they were Poison Skeletons, they weren’t harmed very much.
“Think back to when you were warriors! Dying to a mere slime like that is disgraceful!”
Lee Shin Woo encouraged the skeletons and comfortably took a pose from the rear. The flames would just cause it to self-destruct, so for now, he planned to fire his Grenade (Catapult + Self-Destruct) to weaken the slime.
The resulting explosion from the index finger shot inflicted tremendous damage to the King Slime, causing it to rampage about; unfortunately, the 12 Poison Skeletons fought desperately without reservation, so Lee Shin Woo couldn’t attack without them making way.
As it had done before, the Great Slime bounced its body, but even if it tried to crush the skeletons, there were heaps of earth everywhere and its huge body didn’t allow it to move very easily!
“Hmph, it’s all going according to plan…!”
Lee Shin Woo confirmed that the situation was going his way, going exactly as planned, though he hadn’t actually set up any such plan; he regenerated his index finger and prepared his second Catapult. There weren’t any skeletons that had died yet.
‘I hope you guys last until the King Slime dies.’
Lee Shin Woo stood behind his humans shields… no, his skeleton shields and leisurely fired his Fire Bullet while grinning. That’s how he raised the curtains to an extremely one-sided and cowardly battle.